Chapter 4. Surveying Contemporary Art: Post-War, Postmodern, and then What?

  1. Dana Arnold Professor of Architectural History
  1. Dan Karlholm Professor of Art History

Published Online: 18 AUG 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444324716.ch4

Art History

Art History

How to Cite

Karlholm, D. (2010) Surveying Contemporary Art: Post-War, Postmodern, and then What?, in Art History (ed D. Arnold), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444324716.ch4

Editor Information

  1. University of Southampton UK

Author Information

  1. Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 AUG 2010
  2. Published Print: 14 MAY 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444333596

Online ISBN: 9781444324716



  • surveying contemporary art - post-war, postmodern and then what;
  • writing a history of contemporary art - character of the ‘epoch’ or ‘era,’ art is a sign or expression;
  • notion of contemporary art, how it is used - in history writing, 1980 to the present;
  • Michel Foucault's method of archaeology - futile to try to get to core of contemporary art as a historiographical problem by studying ‘art now’;
  • contemporary art as a category, dual logic of exclusion - from that which precedes it diachronically;
  • synchronic and more clearly value-based determination - re-introducing issue of temporality;
  • ‘noncontemporaneous contemporaneity’ - upsetting a conventional idea of modernity;
  • contemporary art, saturated sign - and overdetermined in its commercial implications;
  • postmodern painting, outgrowth of conceptualism, pop art and neo-expressionism;
  • ‘contemporary art’ of Hugh Honour and John Fleming's A World History of Art - description of American art scene after the war


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • 1945 and/as Contemporary

  • Last Chapters of the his Tory of Art

  • The (Long) 1980s

  • The 1990s

  • The 2000s

  • Conclusion